Yerba Mate (commonly called Mate) is an herbal drink with caffeine made from leaf of Ilex paraguariensis, a South American species of holly. It is made in three styles: the green leaf from is lighter in body and flavoir with a grassy mellowness to it. The roasted mate is heartier and has more body with a roasted toasty flavour. There is also a smoked version similar to Lapsang Souchon, but it is seldom available outside Paraguay.
The stimulant in Mate is called mateine, which is like caffeine but less disruptive to your metabolism and without the side effect and toxicity of coffee. Popular in South America, Yerba Mate dates back at least to the 1500s when the Spanish learned its use from Guarani Indians.
This fine brew is often consumed in a social setting referred to as a “Mate Circle”, utilizing a mate gourd (Cuia) and a Mate straw (Bombilla). Besides the US, Syria-Lebanon is the largest market for mate outside Argentina and Uruguay .